You know, we all have those days. You know the ones when everything irritates you.
I think of Michel on Gilmore girls saying, “People are particularly stupid today; I can’t talk to any more of them”
Those kind of days, when you just can’t even think of a way to reply, I found, that it is so important to take a deep breath and really try to listen.
Sometimes people are ignorant, but how often have you ever heard someone say, “I was really ignorant about such and such, but then some stranger on the internet or moderate acquaintance reamed for it and I completely changed my ways.”
I bet you haven’t. Yeah, I haven’t either.
It made me think though, how often do we see something and want to reply sarcastically, when truly on the other side of the keyboard, there is a person in need?
Yes, they might be asking for something that is hard to find, maybe impossible. Or perhaps it could be a post discussing their latest read, the carseat they chose for their child, what mode of education their child is enjoying or perhaps the kind of car they drive. No matter the topic, there is always someone that will have something to say to the negative if they listen to the temptation to criticize.
A friend was looking for child care recently. He is not paying a high wage, but a decent one, and based off state standards, above normal rates. In looking for child care, someone decided to take the time to make sure he knew how stupid it was to even think that someone would be willing to work for that amount of money in taking care of his child. Since they were replying to me, instead I got to hear it. It stung a little. Why? The person had not a shred of kindness in her replies. It was not said to be helpful, but to mock, cut down and make you feel like an idiot. You know what? Maybe my friend was needing to change the approach. However, there could have been ten dozen ways to tell me that, that could have been helpful, and the way this woman went about it was not one of them.
Another family was looking for housing and it is hard to find in the area. There are a million and one ways to reply to an inquiry, but I always hope that in the end, someone inquiring of me, even if I cannot help them, goes away feeling like maybe there is a little hope and human kindness out there.
It is hard in a world of digital words, to remember the people behind the keyboard. We tend to encourage others, “Oh, step away from the screens. Get out into the “real world” The meanness is all on the social media sites.” You know, while that may be true, it is even worse when you hear it from the lips of a human standing before you and it is plentiful out there.
Both online and in person, let us seek to be more helpful, and not cut others with our words. They might not have asked a question you thought was very smart, or ignorance might be bubbling from their ears. In the end, look into their eyes, think of the person behind the screen, find a kinder way to say what you need to say. Or if you can’t, skip it. There is often no use in saying anything if you can’t say something nice.